Hearings held on Community Investment Act
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Tue., Mar. 8, 2011
Public hearings began in Hartford on March 7 regarding H. B. 6262, An Act Concerning the Community Investment Account. Dairy farmers, representatives from the Audubon Society, the Connecticut State Grange, the Sierra Club and the Connecticut Housing Coalition and others testified in support of the bill.
The Community Investment Act is scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2011. The program provides money to correct a complicated federal milk pricing formula that Connecticut farmers claim does not take into account the high cost of producing milk in the state. Higher energy costs and higher feed costs make it difficult for Connecticut dairy farmers to compete with farms in the southwest and western parts of the country.
Paul Miller of Fairvue Farms in Woodstock testified in support of the bill. “The dairy industry would like to see the dairy provisions in that act so it doesn't sunset,” he said. “We'd like it to see it maintained, because we think our dairy farmers are important in the state of Connecticut.”
The dairy industry contributes more than $1 billion to the state's economy and has created several thousand jobs as well.
Supporters of CIA call it a safety net that only pays out when it is needed. “I think we've had an increase in cow numbers,” said Miller. “I think it's kept a lot of farms in business, primarily because its very difficult for us in Connecticut to compete on a national basis.”
Vern Bahler from Oakridge Farms says that, with corn prices nearly doubling and milk prices softening, Connecticut dairy farmers need some state support. He believes that the milk pricing formula needs to be fixed on the national level, but until it is, CIA should remain in place.
“Its a real challenge,” Miller said, “because most parts of the country don't agree on a policy on how to solve our issues.”
For more information go to cga.ct.gov.